Monday, March 29, 2010

IPad could be Kindle's first big threat in e-books

SAN FRANCISCO – Amazon.com, which has dominated the young but fast-growing electronic book market for the past few years with the Kindle, could get its biggest threat Saturday, when Apple releases its iPad multimedia tablet.
The Kindle starts at $259 and is designed mainly for reading text on a gray-and-black screen. The iPad starts at $499, but with the higher price comes more functions: a color touch screen for downloading books from Apple's new iBookstore, surfing the Web, playing videos and games and more.
It will take time to determine whether the iPad causes a tremor in the e-reader market, a high-magnitude quake or something in between. But in the meantime people who read electronic books or are considering buying a reading device will find their choices getting more complicated.
If the Kindle e-reader falls out of favor with people drawn to Apple's offering, there could be a very thick silver lining for Amazon: It sells e-books that can be read on many kinds of devices, including the iPad and other Apple gadgets. That means the Kindle could fade and Amazon could still occupy a profitable perch in e-books.
However, Apple could find ways to tilt the field in its favor. At least for now, both the Apple iBookstore and the Kindle service will be accessible in much the same way on the iPad — as "application" icons that users can click. Eventually Apple could give its own bookstore and reading program more attention on the iPad.
Apple also could try to curry favor with publishers in a way that matters to consumers, perhaps by securing exclusive titles.
Publishers' relationships with Amazon have been strained by Amazon's insistence on charging $9.99 for some popular e-books. Publishers have complained that it is an attempt to get consumers used to unsustainably low prices. Amazon takes a loss on some books at that price, and the publishers fear that if the $9.99 tag sticks, Amazon will force publishers to lower their wholesale prices, cutting into their profits.
The iPad gives publishers an opportunity for a new pricing model. Some e-books will cost up to $14.99 initially, and Apple is insisting that publishers can't sell books at a lower price through a competitor. The iBookstore is launching with titles from major publishers such as Penguin, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Hachette Book Group and Macmillan. One big publisher, Random House, has not yet struck a deal with Apple.

Amazon declined to comment on the iPad's release.

Although Amazon has tried to snag as much of the e-book market as possible since launching the Kindle in 2007, the company has never revealed how many Kindles it has sold. Analysts estimate it has sold 3 million. (Analysts believe Apple could sell that many iPads in the product's first year). Amazon has offered only sketches of the Kindle's effect on its business, such as by saying that when books are sold in both hard copy and the Kindle format, it sells 48 Kindle books for every 100 hard copies.
Compared to the Kindle, the iPad would seem to have some disadvantages. The entry-level model is nearly twice the price of the Kindle, yet it can't download books everywhere. It can do that only where it is connected to the Internet over Wi-Fi. At 1 1/2 pounds, it is more than twice as heavy as a Kindle. And its battery lasts for just 10 hours, compared with up to a week on a Kindle when it has its wireless access on.
However, among the elements in the iPad's favor is a touch screen that is 9.7 inches diagonally, compared with 6 inches on the Kindle. Ron Skinner, 70, who lives in Las Vegas and bought a Kindle last February, says he has ordered Apple's product because he thinks it will offer a better reading experience.
Skinner, an Apple investor who reads about three books a week, says the contrast between the text and the background is too low on the Kindle's "e-ink" screen, and reading on it bothers his eyes. The difference between the Kindle screen and the iPad screen "is like daylight and dark," Skinner says.
Tim Bajarin, an analyst with Creative Strategies Inc., says the iPad signals the start of a larger shift away from static digital versions of books and magazines. Eventually e-books will be expected to have multimedia dimensions, with video and interactive elements, he says, which calls for something more like Apple's tablet device than something that is largely dedicated to reading.
The main question then would be whether Amazon wants to try to soup up the Kindle to be more like a tablet, or whether it will remain content to offer something more specialized. Consider that the Kindle also can surf the Web, but it's not a feature that's highlighted or encouraged much.
Amazon stock has risen about 11 percent since Apple unveiled the iPad in January, while Apple shares have climbed 13 percent. But it's possible that investors haven't seen many risks yet for Amazon because it's not yet clear how people will see the iPad.
People might not want it as an alternative to the Kindle and a laptop, says James McQuivey, a Forrester analyst. Instead, he says, they might see the iPad mainly as a big iPod, leaving room for other kinds of devices. And the hype surrounding the iPad may help Kindle sales with consumers who want a less expensive digital reading experience.
"The iPad will bring all kinds of consumer benefits that the Kindle can't even pretend to attempt," McQuivey says, "but at the same time the Kindle solves a very focused consumer need in a way the iPad can't do well."

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CELL - Erasing Pluto


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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Cosmic Journeys / When Will Time End?


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Secret Space


The best documentary on UFO, Illuminati, NASA.
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Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Name of the AntiChrist 666?


666. Its one of the most talked about — and feared — numbers on earth. It also conjures up some pretty wild superstitious fears and conspiracies everywhere you look. But whats really behind this mysterious number found in Revelation 13:18 and what does it really mean for you? Watch this video now for more information
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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Why are so many people overweight today?


Over the past few decades, portion sizes of everything from muffins to sandwiches have grown considerably. Unfortunately, America’s waistbands have reacted accordingly. In the 1970s, around 47 percent of Americans were overweight or obese; now 66 percent of us are. In addition, the number of just obese people has doubled, from 15 percent of our population to 30 percent.
While increased sizes haven’t been the sole contributor to our obesity epidemic, large quantities of cheap food have distorted our perceptions of what a typical meal is supposed to look like. These portion comparisons, adapted from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s (NHLBI) Portion Distortion Quiz, give a visual representation of what sizes used to be compared to what they are today.
Two Slices of Pizza
                     
Twenty years ago
                                                    Today
                               500 calories                                                             850 calories                                
Those extra 350 calories, if eaten a two times a month, would put on two extra pounds a year, or forty pounds in the next two decades.
Cup of Coffee
                     
Twenty years ago                                   
Today
                          Coffee with milk and sugar                      Grande café mocha with whip, 2% milk
8 ounces                                                                 16 ounces
45 calories                                                              330 calories
When our parents ordered a coffee two decades ago, they weren’t given as many size options—a standard cup of joe was eight ounces, the size of a small coffee cup. Nowadays, most of us feel like we don’t get our money’s worth unless the cup is at least twelve ounces; it’s not unusual to see thirty-two ounce coffee cups, four times the size they used to be. When made into a mocha, the morning coffee has as many calories as a full meal.
Movie Popcorn
         
Twenty Years Ago                                         Today
5 cups                                                           Tub
270 calories                                                   630 calories
We don’t have to eat those extra 360 calories in the tub of popcorn, but that’s easier said than (not) done. Studies indicate that when given food in larger containers, people will consume more. In a 1996 Cornell University study, people in a movie theater ate from either medium (120g) or large (240g) buckets of popcorn, then divided into two groups based on whether they liked the taste of the popcorn. The results: people with the large size ate more than those with the medium size, regardless of how participants rated the taste of the popcorn.
Bagel
    
Twenty Years Ago                   Today—Noah’s Plain Bagel
3-inch diameter                                    5-6-inch diameter
140 calories                                              350 calories
Because portions are now so large, it’s hard to understand what a “serving size” is supposed to be. Today’s bagel counts for three servings of bread, but many of us would consider it one serving. Larger sizes at restaurants have also contributed to larger sizes when eating at home. A study comparing eating habits today with twenty years ago found that participants poured themselves about 20 percent more cornflakes and 30 percent more milk than twenty years ago.

Cheeseburgers
     
Twenty years ago                                    Today’s Burger
333 calories                                              590 calories
According to a 2007 paper published in the Journal of Public Health Policy, portion sizes offered by fast food chains are two to five times larger than when first introduced. When McDonald’s first started in 1955, its only hamburger weighed around 1.6 ounces; now, the largest hamburger patty weighs 8 ounces, an increase of 500 percent. And while a Big Mac used to be considered big, it’s on the smaller side of many burger options. At Burger King, you can get the Triple Whopper; at Ruby Tuesday’s there’s the Colossal Burger; and Carl’s Junior has the Western Bacon Six Dollar Burger.

Soda  
                                    
Original 8-ounce bottle    12 ounce can                  20-ounce bottle
97 calories                        145 calories                     242 calories
While the 12-ounce can used to be the most common soda option, many stores now carry only the 20-ounce plastic bottle, which contains 2.5 servings of soda. When presented with these larger sizes, humans have a hard time regulating our intake or figuring out what a serving size is supposed to be. A 2004 study, published in Appetite, gave people potato chips packaged in bags that looked the same, but increased in size. As package size increased, so did consumption; subjects ate up to 37 percent more with the bigger bags. Furthermore, when they ate dinner later that day, they did not reduce their food consumption to compensate for increased snack calories—a recipe for weight gain.
Plates
It’s not just food portions that have increased; plate, bowl, and cup sizes have as well. In the early 1990s, the standard size of a dinner plate increased from 10 to 12 inches; cup and bowl sizes also increased. Larger eating containers can influence how much people eat. A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that when people were given larger bowls and spoons they served themselves larger portions of ice cream and tended to eat the whole portion.

Prices
32 ounces                                            44 ounces                                 64 ounces
388 calories                                          533 calories                               776 calories
$0.99                                                   $1.09                                        $1.19 
We Americans love to get the most bang for our buck. When confronted with a 32-ounce drink for 99 cents versus a 44-ounce drink for ten cents more, the decision is easy. You’d have to be a sucker not to go big. But our ability to get the most out of our dollar doesn’t always serve us well. Value pricing, which gets us a lot more food or drink for just a little increase in price, makes sense from an economic standpoint, but is sabotage from a health standpoint. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that Americans consume around 10 percent more calories than they did in the 1970s. Given no change in physical activity, this equates to around 200 extra calories per day, or 20 pounds a year.

What is normal?
Increased portion sizes give us more calories, encourage us to eat more, distort perceptions of appropriate food quantities, and along with sedentary lifestyles, have contributed to our national bulge. Unless you’re trying to gain weight, it might help to reacquaint yourself with serving sizes. The NHLBI tells us that a serving of meat should be the size of a deck of cards while one pancake should be the size of a CD. It’s unlikely that we’ll see a scaling down of food to these sizes anytime soon, so perhaps we should all become familiar with another image: the doggy bag.Source
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The Internet: Where Religions Come to Die


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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Humans could regrow body parts like some amphibians

Regrowing amputated limbs, broken backs and even damaged brains could one day be a reality after scientists discovered a gene that is key to the almost magical ability.

Researchers have found that the gene p21 appears to block the healing power still enjoyed by some creatures including amphibians but lost through evolution to all other animals.
By turning off p21, the process can be miraculously switched back on.
Academics from The Wistar Institute in Philadelphia found that mice lacking the p21 gene gain the ability to regenerate lost or damaged tissue.
Unlike typical mammals, which heal wounds by forming a scar, these mice begin by forming a blastema, a structure associated with rapid cell growth.
According to the Wistar researchers, the loss of p21 causes the cells of these mice to behave more like regenerating embryonic stem cells rather than adult mammalian cells. This means they act as if they creating rather thane mending the body.
Their findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, provide solid evidence to link tissue regeneration to the control of cell division.
They turned off the gene in mice which had damaged ears and they regrew them. While they say it is early days, there is nothing theoretically different about applying the same process to humans.
Professor Ellen Heber-Katz, the lead scientist, said: "Much like a newt that has lost a limb, these mice will replace missing or damaged tissue with healthy tissue that lacks any sign of scarring.
"While we are just beginning to understand the repercussions of these findings, perhaps, one day we'll be able to accelerate healing in humans by temporarily inactivating the p21 gene.
"In normal cells, p21 acts like a brake to block cell cycle progression in the event of DNA damage, preventing the cells from dividing and potentially becoming cancerous.
"We propose that any future therapy would involve turning off p21 transiently during the healing process and only locally at the wound site. This might be done through locally applied drugs. This should minimise any side effects."
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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Eight of the World’s Most Unusual Plants


Weird is relative. What seems weird to me might not seem weird to you. In the plant kingdom, however, there are definitely some species that most people would acknowledge are highly unusual.

1. Rafflesia arnoldii: this parasitic plant develops the world's largest bloom that can grow over three feet across. The flower is a fleshy color, with spots that make it look like a teenager's acne-ridden skin. It smells bad and has a hole in the center that holds six or seven quarts of water. The plant has no leaves, stems, or roots.



2. Hydnora africana, an unusual flesh-colored, parasitic flower that attacks the nearby roots of shrubby in arid deserts of South Africa. The putrid-smelling blossom attracts herds of carrion beetles.

Image Credit: Martin Heigan (via creative commons)


3. Dracunculus vulgaris: smells like rotting flesh, and has a burgundy-colored, leaf-like flower that projects a slender, black appendage.





4. Amorphophallus: means, literally, "shapeless male genetalia." The name comes from the shape of the protruding black spadix.





5. Wollemia nobilis: This bizarre-looking tree was known only from 120 million-year-old fossil leaves before 1994; fewer than one hundred exist in the wild. They have strange bark that looks like bubbles of chocolate, multiple trunks, and ferny-looking leaves growing in spirals. They can grow up to 125 feet tall.



6. Welwitschia mirabilis consists of only two leaves and a stem with roots. Its two leaves continue to grow until they resemble an alien life form. The stem gets thicker rather than higher, although this plant can grow to be almost six feet high and twenty-four feet wide. Its estimated lifespan is 400 to 1500 years. Mirabilis grows in Namibia, and is thought to be a relic of the Jurassic period.



7. Drakaea glyptodon: an orchid. It is the color of, and smells like, raw meat. Pollinated by male wasps.



8. Wolffia angusta: the world's smallest flower. A dozen plants would easily fit on the head of a pin and two plants in full bloom will fit inside a small printed letter "o."


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